Chef James Montejano Appointed As New Executive Chef of La Valencia

May 28, 2014

Chef James Montejano has been hired to replace Daniel Barron as Executive Chef of La Jolla's historic La Valencia Hotel, taking control beginning next month of the revamped Meditteranean Room, now known as 'The MED,' as well as the new Café la Rue.

Chef James has had his heart set on working at La Valencia since he visited over a year ago.

“I love San Diego,” he explains “and if you know the city, you know La V. When I heard this classic, oceanfront Southern California hotel was undergoing a renaissance under new ownership, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”

A San Diego native, Chef James feels like his career path has been leading to La V and its varied culinary opportunities. His first job after graduating from the California Culinary Academy was at Aqua in San Francisco where he trained under renowned chef restaurateurs George Morrone and Michael Mina, and was promoted to sous chef within just two years.

He then worked with Jeffrey Strauss at Pampelmousse in Solana Beach, which became one of San Diego’s most popular dining destinations. His first Executive Chef position was in La Jolla at Cafe Japengo, where he spent three years and became known for his delicate and colorful Asian fusion cuisine. After winning two consecutive annual awards for Best Sushi from the California Restaurant Association, Chef James decided to widen his horizons. Over the next four years his experience included heading a casino steakhouse in Valley View, launching Jade Restaurant in downtown San Diego, and introducing a sustainable, organic, farm-to-table menu at La Papagayo in Leucadia. He then grabbed an opportunity he couldn’t resist – working with Michael Mina again as part of the reopening team of his Michelin Star Restaurant in San Francisco. Chef James relished the chance to prepare seasonal menus for such a food savvy clientele.

Cafe la Rue
He comes to La V directly from The Trident in Sausalito – originally founded by the Kingston Trio in the 60’s. His work there focused on introducing a new seafood driven menu to this iconic Bay Area food & music destination. His menu featured local produce, sustainable seafood and artisan products and heremained deeply involved in the community through working closely with local farmers and vintners, through local events, festivals and of course, social media.

“My mantra has always been that the art of successful cooking doesn't rely just on know-how.” Montejano explains. “It comes from the heart. A good menu should challenge the palate and it needs enthusiasm and a deep love of food to bring it to life.

“The words of Alice Waters really epitomize my approach to cooking ‘Treasure the farmer. Nurture the soil. Plant wherever you are. Cultivate your palate. Eat whole foods. Share the harvest.’” Montejano says that he understands that La V’s management is clear about honoring the past while making the hotel relevant for today’s guest and it will be his pleasure to help take the hotel’s eateries to the next level.

“We honor each and every chef who has worked here,” says Mark Dibella, Managing Director of La V. “Each of them contributed to what makes this hotel so unique and right for its time. Our guests needs continue to be paramount and we’re confident that James skills will surprise and delight them.”

Owned and managed by Pacifica Host Hotels – a division of Pacifica Companies –  La V, known as "The Pink Lady," has undergone a recent enhancement with the hotel’s $10 million “reimagining”. Eateries include THE MED, a signature ocean facing restaurant and terrace featuring New American Cuisine, with the adjoining La Sala Lounge and the brand new street-facing, European bistro, Café La Rue.  La V is located in the center of the Village of La Jolla at 1132 Prospect Street. For more information, visit or call (858)-454-0771.
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